If you’re the owner of an ice cream stand in Massachusetts and you make building improvements without asking the state for permission, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a prohibition-style shutdown.

Massachusetts Ice Cream Stand Shut Down by Armed Environmental Police OfficersDibs on the mint chip…

An ice cream stand in Great Brook Farm State Park, MA (of course), was shut down by state officials this weekend after it was discovered that the owner had made building improvements without the appropriate permits, lowellsun.com reports.

“Mark Duffy, who has operated the dairy farm at the state-owned park for 26 years and has a lease with the state to run the stand, said armed Environmental Police officers showed up at stand on Friday evening and stood guard throughout the weekend, turning away customers,” lowellsun.com’s Chris Camire reports.

And as if having the stand shutdown wasn’t bad enough, the park officials did it over Mother’s Day weekend.

“Edward Lambert, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, said the stand was closed after it was discovered construction had been done without local or state permits,” Camire reports.

“The work, which expanded the stand, included construction on a barn built in 1910 that is adjacent to the stand,” the report adds.

Lambert’s excuse? He’s protecting the public until the state is positive the improvements are 100 percent safe.

“I like ice cream as much as anybody, so it pains us to even temporarily close what is an iconic property, but we have to make sure people eating ice cream there are safe,” said Lambert.

However, according to Duffy, who lives on the nearby farm with his wife, he has made plenty of improvements over the years and this is the first time the authorities have thrown a fit.

“The reason I’m here and the purpose of having me here is to improve the facility and operate a commercial dairy farm,” said Duffy, “I make improvements every single day and have for 26 years.”

And along with Duffy being put out of work there are also the 13 high school and college kids who worked there. They’re unemployed as well.

Massachusetts Ice Cream Stand Shut Down by Armed Environmental Police OfficersYou can’t see it but authorities also posted a sign that says “Santa isn’t real.”
(Image courtesy: Sun Staff/Bob Whitaker)

The ice cream stand and the dairy farm are situated on a 1,000-acre park where people come to hike, mountain bike, tour the dairy facilities, and, of course, eat ice cream.

“On a diversified farm like this, the only way to stay in business is to make all the pieces work together,” said Duffy. “I have expenses. I just don’t have that income anymore. It’s a seasonal business, but this was done on Friday at 6 p.m. on a beautiful Mother’s Day weekend.”

Lambert said he’s not sure when he’ll allow Duffy to reopen the stand.

Front page photo source: Sun Staff/Bob Whitaker. This story has been updated.